A Chinese businesswoman who was arrested and convicted of trespassing at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club then lying to Secret Service agents was finally deported back to her native country over the weekend, though she finished her jail term more than two years ago.
The federal government turned Yujing Zhang over to U.S. immigration authorities in December 2019 after she served an eight-month sentence. However, she was remanded to the Glades County Detention Center for three times longer than her prison sentence due mostly to deportation delays due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, officials told the Miami Herald.
When she was sentenced, Zhang, then 33, said she went to Mar-a-Lago “to meet the president a family and just make friends.” But when a disbelieving judge asked her if she really expected to be able to meet Trump, she laughed out loud and added that she wanted to also meet other people.
She went on to tell U.S. District Judge Roy Altman that then-President Trump told reporters he invited her to the resort, but Altman noted that, too, was a lie.
“It’s unclear what Zhang’s motives were, but the judge said it was clearly about more than getting a photo opportunity,” The Associated Press reported Sunday.
To that point, when she was arrested, Secret Service agents discovered four cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive, and a thumb drive that contained computer malware.
Initially, she appeared not to understand English, but eventually, as agents continued to question her, she “exhibited a detailed knowledge of, and ability to converse in and understand even subtle nuances of, the English language,” according to a criminal complaint.
Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago at the time Zhang attempted to access the property.
In addition to the electronics, investigators who searched her hotel room also found a device that is used to find hidden cameras using a radio frequency, another cellphone, nine total USB drives, five SIM cards, credit and debit cards, $8,000 in U.S. dollars and around $700 in Chinese currency.
Samuel Ivanovich, a Secret Service agent, told a federal judge in West Palm Beach that a thumb drive he discovered on Zhang immediately began to install a file after it was inserted into another agent’s computer.
“He knew it was something out of the ordinary,” Ivanovich said of his fellow agent. “He had to immediately stop his analysis and shut down his computer in order to stop it.”
Zhang told investigators that she was in Florida to strike up business relationships with American investors. She also said that she had so many cellphones because she was afraid one or more would be stolen.
But prosecutors were not buying that argument.
“Someone who is afraid of her property being stolen at the hotel does not leave so much cash and credit cards in a hotel room,” assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Rolando Garcia told the court.
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